Lewis Smith

Every now and again, in addition to the dozens of pictures I do depiciting the characters and ships of GMB, I like to do one image that encapsulates What's Going On In GMB Now for the introductory page (the page you click on to get to the index) Usually it's a depicition of GMB in the vaguest sense, but as I've moved on through the four pictures so far, I've gotten a little better at alluding to them in a way that still sets the stage for the story in general.

So, with GMB4 in progress I needed a new index picture to encapsulate what was going to be going on post GMB4--Kienan and company are surrounded by both allies and enemies, and which ones are which aren't always clear. You know, typical GMB stuff.

I had in mind to revisit a picture I'd done for a future GMB book that never materialised

only to update it to include Kienan's new look and much of the main casts from GMB 5-7 as I could manage to work in. This meant a picture encompassing 11 characters--the most I'd ever done.

When I encounter large pictures like this, I tend to break them down into a individual pictures so that I'm not limited to one piece of paper with a lot of characters on it to ink and smudge as I'm working. So I started out by sketching out the main three characters:

Kienan Ademetria Vain Mirage

Then I worked my way out to the two main background elements--Jayla-2 and Silhouette. Initially my plan was that only Kienan, Vain and Mirage would be fully colored, Jayla-2 and Silhouette would be inked, and the villains in the background would be sketches only. Unfortunately, I ended up liking the inked versions so much that Jayla-2 and Silhouette ended up being coloured as well. I also felt thematically that the two of them deserved to have a bigger spot than faded ink portraits, as their relationship (one representing Kienan's past, the other a possible future) defines out main character to a large extent:

Jayla-2 Silhouette

That left the Villians (Straeger, Judgement, Soldato, Omega, and Siren) which were pencil sketches--dynamic enough but for various reasons ended up faded into the background. One of them proved to be unworkable for what I had in mind and was replaced. The sketches were faded into the background of the picture via Photoshop, with various effects added to make them partially visible again in keeping with the theme of the picture--ambiguity.

Once the sketches were compositited into the background, Jayla-2 and Silhouette's pictures are next. In a nice bit of serendipity, not only do Jayla-2 and Silhouette define the space Kienan's between, but Vain and Mirage appear to be protective of him, as if in some metaphorical way they're all surrounded by progressive rings of past and future, if I may be that pompous.

After that, it's time to add Vain, Mirage and Kienan. This is tricker than you might think. Vain and Mirage have to be placed in such a way that indicates some depth and makes it look as tho they're not shooting at each other. Also, I wanted Mirage to convincingly demonstrate her invisibility effect, so that has to be taken into account in the composition as well. The effect itself is a cinch to make--a simple eraser swipe or two, then a quick fade acheives the effect with a minimum of fuss. I add some effects on Mirage's layer to make it look like she's firing her submachine guns to give the picture a less static feel.

And finally it's time to put Kienan in. By this time, the placement of the picture is pretty well set and Kienan already has a place in the inverted pyramid composition of the picture. As of now, the picture proper is complete.

Before it can be put up on the site, however, certain things need to be added--the web address, copyright information and the "GUNMETAL BLACK" logo. Once these are satisfactorally placed and the picture is optimized for the web, the picture's ready to go and I immediately start planning the next one as the plot moves further on.

I hope you enjoyed this look into my creative process for the art of "Gunmetal Black" and enjoyed the final result!